Colorado Springs, Colo., Dec. 29. DENNIS Pursley, who has guided the U.S. National Swimming Team to number one in the world, has been named winner of the U.S. Olympic Committee's Chair's Coaching Award .
Pursley, who has guided U.S. Swimming's National Team since 1989, will receive his honor January 13, in New York City at the USOC's Coaching Recognition Awards Banquet. He will be honored along with 90 coaches
from the USOC's Olympic and Pan American sports in a black-tie awards gala, which will take place at Pier 60 at the Chelsea Piers Event Center.
The event is sponsored by NYC2012, the group leading New York's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and by NYC & Company, the city's official tourism marketing organization.
The year 2000 marks the second year of the USOC award. It is given annually to a person or program that provides behind-the-scene support and enables a coach to achieve major success. Last year's winners were the family of U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer Team coach Tony DiCicco for the support provided him by wife Diane and four sons.
At a time when the U.S. supremacy in the sport of swimming was being questioned because of the excellent caliber of world swimming, the U.S. swimmers won a total of 33 medals, 14 of them gold, at the Olympic Games in Sydney. It has been described as the greatest team swimming performance of all time and it stamped the United States as the dominant swimming country in the world.
Pursley developed and led a strategy that was put into place nearly two years in advance of the Sydney Olympics. This strategy involved educating America's top athletes and coaches with a training and preparation philosophy that was designed to have U.S. swimmers ready to "be at their best when their best would be needed."
Before joining U.S. swimming he coached the Cincinnati Marlins to three national championship team titles. He was named to the coaching staff of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. He has coached swimmers to seven world records, 12 American records and 20 U.S. National Championship titles as well as numerous medals in major international events including the Olympic Games and World Championships.
He was named 1980 Coach of the Year by the American Swimming Coaches Association after placing six swimmers on the U.S. Olympic Team, more than any other club.
Pursley also was the first head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport from 1981-84 and contributed to that country's surprising second place finish to the USA in total medal count at the 1984
Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
He coached the Olympian Swim Club in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, from 1984-87 and was a member of the coaching staff of the Canadian swimming team in the 1987 Pan American Games.
"I am very honored to be the recipient of this award," said Pursley. "But, I am only one of many who is committed to the Olympic effort. Without the generous support of the USOC and USA Swimming, our Olympic
dream could not become a reality.
"Performances of the athletes and support staff were inspiring. But,most of all, I would like to accept this award on behalf of the personal coaches who were not chosen to serve on the Olympic staff. These coaches make the greatest sacrifices for the least recognition for our Olympic success. It is truly a team effort."
Pursley is a resident of Colorado Springs and a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he competed in swimming his junior and senior years. He was Southeast Conference Champion in 1969 and set an
American record in the 200-yard breaststroke in 1966.